The Seer, the new double album that follows Swans’ productive 2010 reunion and studio return, is a space in which to wander in furious mediation — as songwriter Michael Gira puts it, a “total experience.” Dense without losing immediacy, the album stretches over two hours of constantly shifting aural landscapes. This is a work to be enjoyed second by second, losing your mind to its deceptive repetitions.
After relaunching for free this summer on the iPad, ALARM Magazine is back in print with more awesome shit. We’re psyched to have the mighty Soundgarden on the cover of our Nov/Dec issue, which includes interviews with and stories on Converge, Refused, Melvins, Dirty Projectors, Bloc Party, P.O.S, Squarepusher, Fang Island, and more.
Holland’s annual Roadburn Festival begins today, featuring some of the most adventurous names in metal (and beyond) from across the globe over four days of festivities. This year’s ALARM favorites include: Ancestors, Michael Gira (of Swans), Killing Joke, Om, Sleep,Pelican, Manorexia (JG Thirlwell),Nachtmystium,Barn Owl,Jucifer, La Otracina,Justin K. Broadrick, Saviours, Tombs, and The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation.
See the complete schedule here. Though the festival is sold out, it’s never too early to plan for 2013!
Poland’s much-loved OFF Festival returns August 3-5, featuring ALARM favorites such as Battles, Converge, Baroness, Henry Rollins, Other Lives, Swans, Das Racist, Jacaszek, Africa HiTech, Akron/Family, and more.
On September 22, reunited post-punk band Swanstook to the stage at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago to perform tracks from its 2010 album, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky. The record, Swans’ first studio album in 14 years, sparked a year-long tour, which will be coming to an end on October 1 at All Tomorrow’s Parties in New Jersey.
Swans made a name for itself in the ’80s and ’90s with its intense live shows, and this particular date was no exception. At one point, front-man Michael Gira stomped a press photographer’s camera against a monitor, and followed that with a dirty gesture to another photographer. After the show, lap-steel guitarist Christoph Hahn personally apologized to the photographer, saying, “He gets that way with us sometimes…” Tellingly, Gira once said of his band name, “Swans are majestic, beautiful-looking creatures — with really ugly temperaments.” –text by Mojdeh Stoakley
Horseback: The Gorgon Tongue: Impale Golden Horn + Forbidden Planet (Relapse, 5/10/11)
Horseback: “The Golden Horn”
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As a member of both psych-metal band Horseback and folk-rock outfit Mount Moriah, North Carolina-based guitarist Jenks Miller is versatile, to say the least. In our recent review of Horseback’s new album, a combination of two past albums entitled The Gorgon Tongue, Miller’s Jekyll-and-Hyde tendency is lauded — one minute brooding and drone, another supremely melodic, almost poppy. In this Guest Spot, Miller explores his history with the darker, more chaotic side of music, laying bare the essential beauty of the extreme.
In structure and sound, Chicago post-metal septet Bloodiest is a vast and diverse experience. All members keep a busy schedule with their other projects (past and current bands include Yakuza, Atombombpocketknife, 90 Day Men, and Follows), but they also bring something quite particular to the massive sound that is Bloodiest. Their newest album, Descent, is a barrage of grinding bass textures, heavy percussion, sonorous piano chords, and hazy yet potent vocals. It’s a bleak atmosphere, but with further inspection, it also offers a deep sense of vulnerability.
Not unlike the sprawling landscapes of their favorite films and the thunderous sounds of the oft-compared Swans, these arrangements are meant to be dramatic and wide in scope. When listening to the six movements on Descent, one may be reminded of a scene in Nicolas Winding Refn’s film Valhalla Rising. These are dire, heavy orchestrations for those who expect nothing less from their music.
During this discussion, guitarist Tony Lazzara shares some of the band’s non-musical influences and what it’s like to work in a larger lineup.
How would you describe the sound and direction of Bloodiest?
At the core, we are a rock band, plain and simple. We are interested in creating an environment that is dynamic and dark, but beautiful and repulsive at times.
Discuss the dynamic of writing or performing in a larger ensemble. Is this new for most of you?
A few of us have worked in larger groups, but for the most part, Bloodiest operates as a small cast and crew making a film during the writing process. For example, when you work on a collaborative project, often times everyone shares tasks. At one point, you could be the director and the next minute you could be the camera man. By this I mean we all contribute to every aspect of the writing process in some way.
The key for us is that the people in the band have diverse skill sets. Once the overall theme is established, you have to decide who will best develop the details to reinforce the concepts. One of our strengths is that we have all been close friends for many years. This allows us insight into each other’s strong suits and weaknesses. The important element is getting everyone to maintain the aesthetic decided upon. If you are working on a horror film, you can’t have someone writing in a slapstick comedy routine.
The members of Brooklyn-based metal trio Tombs take pride in their work ethic and don’t bother worrying about what others might think. As for the band’s sound, front-man Mike Hill says, “The music itself is just intensity.”